Undergraduate Blog / Career Development

Do you have any bandwidth?

“Do you have any bandwidth?” is not a phrase I was familiar with. In fact, the last time I heard even the word bandwidth was in Joe Rogan’s podcast with Elon Musk almost a year ago where bandwidth was described as the bottleneck to humans becoming functional cyborgs thanks to smart phone technology. I know. It’s crazy. Give it a listen. Anyway, bandwidth has become a buzzword in my office and “do you have more bandwidth?” is used extensively, sometimes multiple times a day. The phrase is used to preface a request to take responsibility for the completion of a new project.

When asked, many things must be evaluated in your mind in a matter of seconds. The initial thought is, of course, a resounding “yes!” I’m at an internship. I’m here to learn. I should take every opportunity for every assignment to fully immerse myself and experience as much as possible. Unfortunately, you are likely to become overwhelmed with projects if you accepted everything and it’s not a sustainable approach.

Instead, the first question you ask yourself is “what am I already responsible for completing?” Several projects with several deadlines each require X hours of work per day. Will taking on this new project inhibit your ability to submit your current projects at their respective deadlines? The next question is “who is asking?” I work at a small internship with five employees, so everyone might as well be my boss. This question isn’t a matter of picking jobs from certain people; although, if the founder asks for something, it might pull a little more weight. Yet, this question is a matter of making sure one supervisor is aware of what you are working on for another. The third question is rather a luxury: “does this interest me?” Usually, you aren’t picking and choosing your projects. Something has to get done for the company and you’re the one to do it. But when you are juggling multiple projects, you might be more willing to put in the extra hours for a project on financial modeling rather than sales techniques, or vice versa depending on your interests.

Now, you’ve been asked the question and evaluate it on all three levels. Ideally, you are able to give that enthusiast “yes!” and pile it on your plate. However, it is just as important to correctly assess the situation to a negative result and tell them “No, I don’t have any bandwidth.”